New Jerusalem: Reign Forever and Ever

Many New Testament books proclaim glory to God forever and ever. looking toward New Jerusalem the forever-and-ever city Hebrews 1:8, quoting Psalm 45, says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.”

This is spoken to the Son, who is God in His divinity. His throne, the throne of New Jerusalem, is eternal, forever and ever. His reign is eternal and full of uprightness. This matches 2 Peter 3:13 which tells us that in the new heaven and new earth righteousness dwells.

New JerusalemHis eternal reign is also in Revelation 11:15, “the seventh angel trumpeted; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.” This forever-and-ever reign points to New Jerusalem.

“Our Lord and His Christ” indicates two, but is followed by “He will reign” indicating one. The Triune  God is three yet one. This matches the wording in Revelation 22:1 (and 22:3)—in New Jerusalem is “the throne of God and of the Lamb”—one throne for two, with the third, the Spirit, flowing forth as the river of water of life.

The last part of Revelation 22:5 says more about this eternal reign. “And they will reign forever and ever.” “They” are God’s slaves mentioned in verse 3. We reign forever and ever by being one with the Triune God who reigns forever and ever. We are slaves, yet we reign. Today we can reign in the life which is the Lord Himself within us (Rom. 5:17); in New Jerusalem we will reign, still in this life, in a fuller way.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com.

God and the Lamb are the Temple

John the apostle, speaking about New Jerusalem, tells us, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22).

New JerusalemThere is no physical temple, no material “house of worship,” no “going to church,” in New Jerusalem. In this wonderful city we will worship God in God and the Lamb. Our priestly service to God will be in God and the Lamb.

Worshipping and serving God in God and the Lamb is a principle in the entire New Testament. The Lord Jesus first revealed this in John 4. The Samaritan woman asked whether the mountain of Samaria or Jerusalem is the proper place to worship. The Lord answered “an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father” (v. 21).

He continued, “An hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truthfulness, for the Father also seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness” (v. 23-24).

“An hour is coming” points to the Lord’s resurrection. That “hour” is when the resurrected Lord breathed into His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). From that time we worship in spirit. And we will continue to do so in New Jerusalem.

Yes, Christians should gather together (in small or large numbers) for our priestly service to God. But the physical location is not important; it could be outside or in a home or in another building. The important matter is to worship in spirit. God is spirit and our worship in spirit is in oneness with Him.

In New Jerusalem we will all be together in resurrection and will have no need of a physical location. There we will all worship God and the Lamb in the city’s temple, the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

God’s Slaves Serve in New Jerusalem (2)

Revelation 22:3b says, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.” Looking at our service now gives us insight into how we will serve in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe foundation of our serving is what Jesus Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection. He “released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).

Hebrews 9:14 also links the blood of Jesus and our serving, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Part of Revelation 7:14-15 is “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Because of this they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple.” The washing of our robes, our conduct, is by receiving the forgiveness of sins accomplished by Jesus Christ.

This washing of sins has two stages. One is by our repenting at the initial time of our salvation. The other is throughout our Christian life by our confessing of sins for His cleansing (1 John 1:9). The first brings us before the throne and the second keeps us before the throne so  that we may serve God—both now and in New Jerusalem.

In Romans 1:9 Paul says, “God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit…” In Philippians 3:3 we “…serve by the Spirit of God…” Serving as priests must be in the Spirit with our human spirit. Without this mingled spirit, whatever we do is not serving God as a priest.

In John 4:24 Jesus says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.” There is no serving God in worship without the mingled spirit.

Our serving now, and in New Jerusalem, is based on redemption and in spirit.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

God’s Slaves Serve in New Jerusalem

New JerusalemRevelation 22:3b says, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him.”

There are three New Testament Greek words often translated “serve.” The word in Revelation 22 means to serve as a priest, to serve in worship of God. To get a better grasp of verse 22:3, let’s look at other verses with this same word.

In Matthew 4:10 Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” Here worship and serving are linked, and restricted by “only.” This quotation surely matches what we will do in New Jerusalem.

In Acts 7:7 Stephen speaks about God’s actions with Israel. In verse 7 he said repeated God’s word, “After these things [slavery in Egypt] they will come forth and serve Me as priests in this place.” God’s desire was that the whole nation serve as priests. This was thwarted by their worship of the golden calf and only the house of Aaron served as priests.

The redemption and resurrection of Jesus Christ brought us back to God’s desire. He “released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6). This action is for this age, the coming age, and eternity. The accomplishments of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection point to New Jerusalem.

In Acts 24:14 and 27:23 Paul declares that he serves God. He was serving and we too should serve, based on the Lord having made us priests to His and our God and Father. Whether I serve or not is not based on how I feel but on the Lord’s doing. More on this in the next post; may we experience this from now unto New Jerusalem.

 

The Wonderful Jesus Christ in Revelation   6-9 Brings Us to New Jerusalem

The central theme of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus. This wonderful One is seen throughout Revelation caring for God’s interests on earth, which consummate in the new creation with New Jerusalem at its center. Here are some aspects of His care in Revelation 6–9, which bring us to New Jerusalem.

In Revelation 5 the Lamb is declared to be the only one in the universe worthy to open the seven seals. In 6:1 He opens the first, and in 6:2 the gospel is released. By responding to this gospel we are on the path to New Jerusalem. Thank Him for giving us this open door!

In 7:9 a great multitude, those purchased (5:9) “out of every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” are “standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” This multitude will continue before the throne of God and the Lamb in New Jerusalem (22:1).

In 7:15 this multitude serves God “day and night in His temple” just as we will serve Him as priests in New Jerusalem (22:3).

Verses 7:16-17 present the Lamb’s care for the multitude. Revelation 7:9-17 has many parallels with New Jerusalem.

In 8:3 Christ adds Himself as incense to our prayers that they be accepted as a sweet-smelling savor to God. These prayers of the believers, on earth cooperating with the heavens, open the way for the seven trumpets.

These trumpets bring forth many calamities and judgments on the negative things and people on earth (Rev. 8–9). These actions conclude with the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ in 11:15, a kingdom which continues into New Jerusalem.

The actions in Revelation 9 should lead men to repent but 9:20-21 say they did not. Sad. It is His mercy that we can repent. Repentance Puts Us on the Path to New Jerusalem.

Revelation 7 and New Jerusalem

The record in Revelation 7:9-17 parallels in several ways the description of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22. Part of note 2 on Revelation 7:9 in the Recovery Version New Testament says, “The record in vv. 9-17 describes in a general way the scene from the time of the rapture of the believers to their enjoyment in eternity.”

New JerusalemOne striking parallel is “These are those who…have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14) and “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city” (22:14).

The result of washing in 22:14 indicates that the multitude in Revelation 7 will be constituents of New Jerusalem.

Another strong similarity is “They are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night…” (7:15) and “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him” (22:3). Prior to the Lord’s second coming, the throne of God is in heaven, to which this multitude has been raptured (see link to note in first paragraph). In eternity the throne is in New Jerusalem, which has come down “out of heaven” to the new earth (Rev. 21:2, 10).

“They will not hunger any more, neither will they thirst any more” (7:16a) is fulfilled in New Jerusalem by the fruit of the tree of life and the river of water of life (22:1-2).

“The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them…” (7:17) matches “the throne of God and of the Lamb (22:1). The shepherding in 7:17 includes the tree and river in 22:1-2 and the Lord God’s shining on us in 22:5. These parallels show that the eternal blessing in New Jerusalem are presented in a general way in Revelation 7.

Aspects of New Jerusalem in Our Daily Life

hymn on God’s eternal purpose includes creation, life, transformation, building, and New Jerusalem. It moves from Genesis 1–2 through the New Testament to New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22.
New Jerusalem

Verses 5 and 6 of the hymn, above, are about New Jerusalem. Here are many lines from these verses of the hymn with a corresponding portion from Revelation.

✦ He’s the very center, ruling on the throne:  “the throne of God and of the Lamb ” (22:1)
✦ By His light of glory, they are kept in light: “the Lord God will shine upon them” (22:5)
✦ He’s their living water, and their food supply: “a river of water of life, bright as crystal…And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month” (22:1-2)
✦ All their thirst and hunger He doth satisfy: “They will not hunger any more, neither will they thirst any more” (7:16)
✦ He’s for them the temple, in Himself they live: “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its [New Jerusalem’s] temple” (21:22), “they…serve [as priests] Him day and night in His temple” (7:15)
✦ In His constant presence: “they will see His face….the Lord God will shine upon them” (22:4, 5)
✦ Worship ever give: “His slaves will serve [as priests] Him” (22:3)

The characteristics of New Jerusalem described in these hymn verses should be spiritual (not physical) characteristics of our Christian life today. The Lord Jesus should be on the throne in us now, supplying us with living water and being our bread of life. We should walk in Him as our light (1 John 1:7), be empowered by Him (2 Tim. 2:1), be in the oneness (Eph. 4:3), behold Him (Heb. 12:2), and worship Him (John 4:24).

The characteristics of New Jerusalem in the hymn are very similar to the characteristics of a proper Christian life. The difference is not in nature but in magnitude. New Jerusalem will be much richer than today, and without the complication of sin and death.

Out of Every Tribe, Tongue, People & Nation

In Revelation 5 Jesus Christ is both the Lion and the Lamb. He is praised with the words, “You are worthy…for You were slain and have purchased for God by Your blood men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (v. 5-9). His death and purchase are to gain people for New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemIn Revelation 7:9 John saw “a great multitude which no one could number, out of every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes and palm branches in their hands.”

Verse 7:13 asks, Who are these who are clothed in white? Verse 14 answers, They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Verse 15 continues, Because of this they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits upon the throne will tabernacle over them.

This great multitude washed their robes, which means they received the Lord’s forgiving of sins. The end result of washing our robes is to enter New Jerusalem—“Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).

The great multitude is before the throne serving God. This is life in New Jerusalem—“the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His slaves will serve Him” (Rev. 22:3).

Thank the Lamb for dying for us and purchasing us. Thank Him that we receive forgiveness from Him. Let us go on per Revelation 22:14 to eat Him as our daily food supply and enter New Jerusalem.

Come Forward, See God’s Face, Serve Him

A review of recent posts on the priesthood:
• In Exodus 19 God stated His intention to make Israel a kingdom of priests;
• Hebrews 5–7 speak about Jesus Christ as the kingly High Priest;
• Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:9-10 tell us that Jesus Christ, through His propitiatory death, made us a kingdom of priests;
• 1 Peter 1–2 presents a process through which we are built together as a priesthood;
• 1 Peter 2 also says we are a royal priesthood telling out the virtues of the Lord;
• Revelation 20:6 speaks of priests of God and of Christ and reigning with Him.

Finally, in Revelation 22:3, 5, “…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him….and they will reign forever and ever.” Here the word “serve” means to serve as a priest.

New JerusalemTo serve as priests is to be in the presence of God in the holy of holies. Hebrews 9:8 tells us that the way into the holy of holies was not manifested in Old Testament times. But Hebrews 9–10 go on to speak of what Jesus Christ accomplished as our High Priest so that now we can come forward to the holy of holies (10:19). Ultimately, the entire city of New Jerusalem is the holy of holies. Here we see God’s face (Revelation 22:4).

By coming to the holy of holies, the priests are infused with God’s shining and thereby express Him. This matches two lines of a song in an earlier post: Saturated with His beauty, Radiate His excellence. This should be our experience today and will be our fuller experience in New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

We Serve God as Priests

In Revelation 21:2, 9-11 John saw the city New Jerusalem and he describes what was revealed to him. One aspect of his description is in Revelation 22:3, 5:

…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His slaves will serve Him….and they have no need of the light of a lamp and of the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine upon them; and they will reign forever and ever.

New JerusalemThe Greek word translated “serve” in verse 3 means to serve as priests. All God’s people are His slaves and all will be one corporate priesthood serving Him. Simultaneously they all will reign with Him. They will be the consummate, eternal, royal priesthood.

This royal priesthood was first portrayed by Melchizedek in Genesis 14. Verse 18 says, “Melchizedek the king of Salem brought out bread and wine. Now he was priest of God the Most High.”

The only other Old Testament word about Melchizedek is Psalm 110:4, “Jehovah has sworn, and He will not change: You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” In Matthew 22:41-46 the Lord quotes Psalm 110:1 and tells us that it is a prophecy about Himself. He is the real Melchizedek, the real King-Priest.

Hebrews 5–7 has much to say about Melchisedec. The next post will look at these verses. Later posts will look at all the believers as a kingdom of priests culminating in New Jerusalem.

Photo by Gregory Heath, courtesy of CSIRO Australia.

New Jerusalem is the Consummation of All God’s Newness in the Bible

Zion National Park 3, UT, Nat Park Service

New Jerusalem, the center of the new creation (Revelation 21:1-2), is the consummation of all the newness in the Bible. The city is new because, like the new man, it is in Christ and in it Christ is all and in all. God in Christ defines what is new. Everything and every person outside of Christ is old.

Here is a summary with a link and a key verse for each of the recent posts on New Jerusalem as the consummation of the divine newness. In a proper Christian life we experience the newness of New Jerusalem now.

 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Where are we? If in Christ, we are a new creation; if not in Christ, we are in the old creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17

 In Christ, by entering into and experiencing His death and thereby being ushered into His resurrection, we can walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

 Resurrection and newness cannot be separated. In resurrection we walk in newness of life and the Spirit is the reality of resurrection. Therefore, we serve in newness of spirit. Romans 7:6

 By serving in spirit, we participate in the new covenant ministry of the Spirit who gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6

 Christ created the new man on the cross. We have put on the new man, which is being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. Colossians 3:10

 The new man is experiencing the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Several chapters in the epistles show us how to cooperate with the Spirit’s renewing work in our being. Titus 3:5

 New Jerusalem is the consummation of the new covenant. The Lord established the new covenant by His death and now we who have been called receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Zion National Park 3, UT, Nat Park Service

Here is a summary with a link and a key verse for some older posts about the newness of the heavenly Jerusalem and our experience of the Spirit’s renewing.

 God created man in His image and with His likeness for the accomplishing of His purpose. The original man fell but on the cross Christ created a new man which will fulfill God’s purpose and bring in New Jerusalem. Ephesians 2:15

 Our believing into Jesus Christ brings us into the new creation. Although we still need the renewing of the Holy Spirit, our believing puts us on and guarantees the path to New Jerusalem. John 1:12

 All believers are positionally in the new man, yet we still need to cooperate with the Spirit’s work in us so that we may be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Ephesians 4:23

 Christ is our new beginning, typified by new moons and new years. Revelation mentions singing a new song (singing is a good way to enjoy His newness). These new things (and many more) point toward New Jerusalem. Psalm 33:3

 Based on the sacrifice (the death on the cross) of our passover Christ, we are a new lump. We should therefore keep the feast with Christ as our pure, new food which energizes us to live Him. 1 Corinthians 5:8

 The new man is being renewing according to the image of Him [Christ] who created the new man. Christ is the image of the invisible God and the renewing brings forth the image of God which ultimately is displayed by New Jerusalem. Colossians 1:15

How wonderful is the work of the Triune God. God has put us into Christ where we are the new man. Here the Spirit is renewing us so that our entire being will have the newness which will be characteristic of New Jerusalem.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

The Goal of God’s Judgements in Revelation

New JerusalemRevelation records many judgements on the earth and its inhabitants. These judgements include natural calamities and others which will be worse than any in past human history.

There are judgements in Revelation 6 resulting from the opening of the seven seals. More judgements are announced by the seven trumpets in chapters 8, 9 and 11. Still more in chapters 15–16 are due to the pouring out of God’s wrath with the seven bowls. Babylon is judged in Revelation 17–18 and the armies of antichrist are judged at Armageddon in the second half of chapter 19.

Among these judgements is the pleasant scene in Revelation 7. Here the Israelites are sealed for their preservation. In addition a great multitude (7:9-17) is standing before the throne and before the Lamb. This multitude is under the loving care of God and the Lamb.

Several aspects of this scene match New Jerusalem: the throne of God and the Lamb, God’s temple and tabernacle, the multitude serving God, the waters of life, and no more tears (because death and the related sicknesses and pains are no more).

These characteristics of the scene in Revelation 7 point toward New Jerusalem. This holy city, the focal point of new heaven and new earth, is the goal of everything in the Bible. The city is the goal of all God’s judgements. The judgements clean up the universe so that no Satan, no death, no rebellion, no unrighteousness, and no unholiness remain.

Yet, God’s goal is not to remove all the negative things. The goal of the Triune God is to be fully one with His chosen, redeemed, and glorified people. This oneness reaches its peak in Revelation 21, “the bride, the wife of the Lamb….the holy city, Jerusalem…having the glory of God.”

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